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1. Is this a film:
a) About the historical Buddha
b) About Buddhist belief
c) On Buddhist themes
d) Which incorporates Buddhist beliefs
Select one of the above and give reasons for your answer.
2. Reflect on the film’s title: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring. In terms of Buddhist theory, how would you interpret the title (in its own right, in relation to the sections and structure of the film, the life of the protagonist, in relation to stages in life, and ultimately Samsara)?
3. Although modernization is not a direct topic in the film it is touched upon to some degree. Markers of modernization are represented as the young monk’s love interest, their relationship (and its fatal outcome in the contemporary world), and the police officers who arrest the monk. How does the director perceive modernization (good, evil, or reconcilable with Buddhism and ultimately traditional values)? How does this film exemplify concepts of post-modernity typical of Korean film?
4. Using auteur theory, how would you describe the director of this work? What does the film tell you about his personal convictions, on life, society and ultimately Buddhism? You may use the following as reference points: How is desire (tanha) portrayed in the film? Is it evil? Does it lead only to ruin and heartache? Or, is it an inevitable path which an individual must take in order to realize life’s true meaning and one’s own existence? Simply put, does he have a one-dimensional and traditional view of desire or does he add his own opinion to the scenario? If so, what is it?
5. What do the animals in each of the film’s sections represent? Explain their significance both according to Buddhist beliefs and Korean folklore (and how they correspond to the sections of the film).
6. According to Buddhism, just like Hinduism, karma runs the course of one’s life. However, Buddhism has a slightly different perception of karma. What is it and how does karma function in the film?
7. Is the concept of Buddhist suffering (dukkha) reconcilable with the Korean notion of haan? If so, how and on what level? Use the film as a guide.
8. Although this is a film that is essentially Buddhist in nature, and therefore universal in that sense, what makes it unique to Korean cinema, mainly in terms of storytelling devices and structure?